Charlie Flanagan warns that Brexit is a "proper mess"

Former British PM Tony Blair is set to speak about Brexit at a conference in Wicklow today

Charlie Flanagan warns that Brexit is a "proper mess"

Photo: Leah Farrell/

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has warned that Brexit is a 'proper mess'.

He has told the BBC that the UK's decision to leave the European Union is one of the greatest challenges facing Ireland since the Independence of the Irish State.

He suggested that a united Ireland is more likely after Brexit, but does not think now is the time for a border poll.

Speaking about the upcoming Brexit negotiations, he observed: "What I've been saying to my EU colleagues is that this should not be a punishment beating, this should not be exacting retribution on any of its members - in particular the UK, for daring to leave the family.

"This needs to be dealt with in an orderly manner, but acknowledging that it's a very, very serious challenge and a proper mess."

On the subject of the border, he said: "I say no to border posts, I say no to fences, I say no to hard borders [...] I believe that we to work with the EU to ensure that the open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland remains."

Minister Flanagan will meet with the the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier later, with the pair set to travel north to visit border areas.

It comes on the second day of Mr Barnier's visit to Ireland, and after he addressed a joint sitting of the Dáil and Seanad yesterday morning.

The French politician warned that a post-Brexit border will exist on this island in some shape or form, but stressed he was determined to avoid a hard border.

Mr Barnier is due to attend the conference of the European People's Party in Co Wicklow this morning.

The former British prime minister Tony Blair is also set to address attendees during a panel on Brexit.